Apparently, the good folks over at Anchor Distilling (by way of Wagstaff Worldwide) know I like booze. Good booze, specifically. And lately they've been gracious enough to invite me to a few events to sample some of their wares.
Back in August we went to Wingtip, the très swank private club in the Financial District, to meet a cocktailian legend, Alessandro Palazzi of the DUKES Hotel in London. The DUKES garnered a fair bit of fame by being the regular haunt of none other than Sir Ian Fleming himself, and it is believed that it is where he acquired the inspiration for James Bond's propensity for martinis "shaken, not stirred." (Though, in fact, Bond is at least as famous for creating a cocktail all his own, the Vesper.) Palazzi was here to showcase his take on the classic, dubbed the DUKES Classic Dry Martini.
Palazzi, a slight man in a dapper white shawl-collar tux, wheeled up a wooden cart adorned with just a bowl of Meyer lemons, a crystal bottle with a shaker top, containing his house vermouth, and a bottle of No. 3 Gin (represented by Anchor Distilling). No. 3 is a London Dry Gin which starts out as a neutral spirit infused with botanicals including the classic juniper, angelica and sweet orange peel, but somewhat uniquely also grapefruit peel, lending a fresher citric edge. Speaking softly with a pronounced Italian accent, Palazzi explained that he uses No. 3 in combination with citrus, specifically Amalfi lemons from Italy back in London, as opposed to the classic olives to enhance the natural citrus aromas in the gin. (The recipe is on the No. 3 Gin site.) Out of respect for local ingredients, and because you cannot bring lemons into the state of California, he used meyers on this day.
Two bracingly chilled cocktail glasses were delivered from the bar. At the DUKES, cocktail glasses are chilled in the freezer at least 24 hours; this chills the cocktail right in the glass, eliminating the need for stirring or shaking, and thereby not diluting the cocktail. A scant few dashes of house vermouth went into the glass, swirled around the interior, and in went the gin. He cut a slice of lemon rind, twisted it over the top to release the oils, and dropped it in. Like so:
I am certain that Bond would approve.
Anchor Distilling has also recently begun to represent Tempus Fugit Spirits, makers of classic amari, liqueurs, absinthes, cremes and, now, vermouths. They hosted an event in their private bar on the rooftop of the Anchor Brewing building in Potrero Hill. (My friend Emily was there, too.)
Founder John Troia was on hand to talk about the product line, of course, but much more than that. Troia is a treasure trove of information on vintage European spirits, many of which Tempus Fugit is bringing back from the virtual grave. One of them, Gran Classico, has been a mainstay in our house for years. Modeled after a defunct recipe for Torino Gran Classico, a classic amaro from Turin, it comes off initially with a similar bitter-sweet balance as others like Campari, but far more complex. I was not as familiar with the rest of their offerings, but I certainly am now.